May 1, 2021
Dear friends + neighbors,

A lot of pieces are beginning to come together as we work toward concluding our legislative session for this year. As our global community continues to work through the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am doing everything I can to support certainty for our district and the state. Quyana for the opportunity to offer an update on the happenings in the Capitol.

Have a wonderful weekend,
HB 76: Extending the COVID-19 Disaster Declaration

After many months of hard work and thoughtful debate, the Legislature passed House Bill 76 to extend the COVID-19 disaster declaration late on Wednesday night. This important legislation:

  • Protects $8 million in monthly federal food assistance to impacted Alaskans.
  • Ensures the state is eligible for future federal aid.
  • Limits the governor's ability to spend federal funds without legislative oversight.
  • Continues the legal operation of alternative testing and vaccination sites.
  • Allows healthcare providers flexibilities in the delivery of telehealth services.

While I am grateful Governor Dunleavy signed House Bill 76 on Friday, I am deeply disappointed he immediately issued a proclamation ending the COVID-19 disaster declaration in Alaska. Practically speaking, this means Alaska no longer has the tools it needs to remain nimble and it could hamstring our state’s ability to respond to a highly-evolving and active global pandemic.

Rushing to end basic protective measures that we know work (such as mandatory airport testing) and preemptively removing flexibilities (like access to expanded telehealth and alternative care sites) will only prolong the impacts of COVID-19 in our lives. Michigan, whose approach is similar to the one Governor Dunleavy is now utilizing in Alaska, is currently grappling with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country as younger, healthy Americans with the virus are filling hospital wards there.
Alaska health professionals and epidemiologists have been decisively clear, we are not out of the woods and much remains to be known about the continued threat of COVID-19 as global variants spread widely and the vast majority of Americans remain unvaccinated.

While we are all ready for a return to normalcy, this action could have very consequential outcomes. In the context of a global pandemic, those consequences are the health and lives of Alaskans and the harm to fragile medical resources and small businesses.
HB 184: Tribal Child Welfare Compact

In 2017, under Governor Walker the State of Alaska entered the landmark Tribal Child Welfare Compact (Compact) with 18 Tribal Co-Signers, representing 161 federally recognized Alaska Native Tribes, in order to work collaboratively on improving child welfare outcomes for children and families. This historic agreement continues under the Dunleavy administration.

The Compact supports OCS’ mission that children and families are served as close to home as possible. Tribes and Tribal organizations are able to leverage wrap-around preventative services while incorporating cultural values and traditions into services, offered through negotiated scopes of work ensuring a stronger and more relevant child welfare system in Alaska.  

I was proud to introduce HB 184, to protect the continued implementation of the Tribal Child Welfare Compact in Alaska by codifying it in Alaska Statute. Alaska’s Compact is the first of its kind and has gained national recognition as a model for other states. Continued collaboration is a key opportunity to improve child welfare outcomes and address significant disparities experienced by Alaska Native children across Alaska. 

HB 184 passed out of the House Health & Social Services Committee on April 27, and the next stop will be in the House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs this coming Tuesday, May 4, at 8:00am.
HB 123: State Recognition of Tribes
I am honored to be sponsoring HB 123, a bill that would formally recognize Alaska's 229 federally recognized Tribes in Alaska statute for the first time. Alaska relies on Tribal partners to offer a litany of vital services to Alaskans, from public safety and transportation, to health care and economic development. As we witnessed throughout 2020 and 2021, Tribes played an essential role in protecting Alaskans from COVID-19 and efficiently distributing vaccines.
HB 123 passed out of both the Tribal Affairs and State Affairs committees. It will soon be considered on the House floor.
HB170: Establishing a Green Bank
The House Energy Committee considered HB 170, a bill introduced by the Governor to establish a fund to help Alaskans make their homes and community buildings more energy efficient. I worked with my colleagues to amend the legislation to ensure rural Alaskans are able to equitably participate in the green bank’s programs, including one that would require at least 35% of loans to go toward people in communities that receive Power Cost Equalization. Another amendment I sponsored expanded the green bank’s advisory board to include members representing Alaska Native entities.
I voted to advance HB 170 from the Energy Committee, for further consideration by the House Labor & Commerce Committee.
Tribal Health Organizations are Unsung Heroes of Alaska's COVID-19 Response and Vaccination

Throughout the pandemic, Tribal health organizations have been essential partners in the State's response to COVID-19. They have expanded testing, conducted contact tracing, and provided medical support to all Alaskans, regardless of beneficiary status. Thanks to the leadership and self-determination of these organizations, the quiet and diligent expansion of vaccine eligibility for Alaskans that they began at the start of the year has contributed heavily to the State's ability in early March to expand vaccination ability across Alaska.

I was joined by Representatives Edgmon, Foster and Patkotak in thanking our Tribal health heroes for all the incredible work they have done.
YKHC Vaccine Sign-up

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) is offering COVID-19 vaccination throughout the YK Delta. Sign up HERE to reserve your appointment for a free vaccine now!

Please note, completing this form will not automatically schedule you for an appointment, but you will be scheduled as vaccine doses become available. Submitting the form will add you to the list for when vaccination teams visit your village, and you should receive a call within 3 days to schedule an appointment. If possible, a date will be provided to you at this time. If you don’t have access to the internet or would like help signing up, you can call 1-800-478-6599.

Please do your part to protect yourself and your community from the spread of COVID-19 — sign up for your vaccine today!  

I would love to hear from you if you have a suggestion for a legislative citation of importance to District 38!

What is a citation? It is an official document expressing commendation, condolences, appreciation or congratulations to an individual or group.

There are two types of citations:

"Honorarium" recognizes a person, organization, or special occasion.

"In Memorium" honors someone who has recently passed away.

Please feel free to call or e-mail my office if you have any questions.
Katy Giorgio
Health & Social Services
Committee Aide
Logan Basner
Tribal Affairs
Committee Aide
Claire Gross